Discrimination-and-Fairness Culture: Assimilation


This type of organizational culture is based on the assumption that people are basically all the same and that awareness of differences should be minimized. The goal of diversity or inclusiveness work in organizations with this type of culture is generally to recruit diverse staff and board members, and to ensure that everyone is treated the same way.

The underlying premise of this type of organizational culture is that everyone should assimilate and reflect the dominant culture. While the intentions of those who promote such a culture are often good, the net effect can be that employees and board members from communities of color feel an obligation to mirror the dominant culture (generally reflecting the values, beliefs, and behaviors of white people) and are not encouraged to bring their cultural assets to the workplace. Another name for this type of organizational culture is "color-blind." Research shows that color-blind management processes do not lead to inclusive organizations. (Pease, Katherine & Associates, Inside Inclusiveness: Race, Ethnicity, and Nonprofit Organizations. The Denver Foundation. July 2003)

For example, an arts organization might hire a Latina arts instructor with full bilingual capacity but prevent her from teaching courses aimed at monolingual Spanish-speaking children who would benefit from a bilingual environment.

This type of organizational culture moves closer toward inclusiveness. Individuals of color are hired and valued because of the contributions they can make in understanding and relating to constituents of color.

The underlying premise of this type of organizational culture is that the organization values the differences of people from different racial/ethnic/cultural backgrounds. However, differentiation can go too far when individuals of color are valued only for their ability to work within and among communities of color.

For example, an arts organization may hire a bilingual Latino instructor for the specific purpose of working with monolingual Spanish-speaking students. However, in this type of organizational culture, the Latino art program does not get integrated into the organization; rather it - and the people who are involved with it - remain isolated. Thus, the skills and talents of the instructor and the students are relegated to a specific area of the organization and are not maximized by the whole organization. This minimizes the learning potential for the rest of the staff.


Overview: Organizational Culture

Examples of Organizational Cultures Related to Diversity and Inclusiveness

     Discrimination and Fairness Culture: Assimilation

     Connecting Diversity to Work Perspectives: Integration

Creating a More Inclusive Organizational Culture